Former basketball players in Nigeria on Monday threatened to boycott the election of board members of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF.
The Ministery of Youth and Sports Development had, in a memo last week, slated the election for January 31, 2022 in Abuja.
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However, the ex-players, led by the players representative-elect of the NBBF, Stanley Gumut and the former players representative of the board, Ejike Ugboaja, stormed the office of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Monday, to submit a letter expressing their displeasure with the lingering NBBF crisis.
They threatened to storm the streets of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to attract the attention of the authorities if their demands for immediate resolution of the crisis is not met.
The letter, which was copied to the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; the Chief of Staff to Mr President and Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC President, Habu Gumel, partly read: “We make bold to state without equivocation that, in the event of failure to give credence to our humble request which is in the overall interest of basketball and sports development in Nigeria, we shall: Mobilize relevant stakeholders and supporters and stage a MEGA protest to press home our demands.
“The Nigerian basketball players home and abroad will not play if these issues are not resolved.
“We are also not oblivious of the alternative of litigation as an acceptable way to seek redress”.
The ex-players also stated in the letter dated January 24, 2022 that, “Hon Minister Sir, you may recall that, owing to this protracted leadership crisis within the basketball community, you constituted a reconciliation committee to reach out to the various factions with the view of seeking and achieving an amicable resolution forthwith.
“Regrettably, since its inauguration, the reconciliation committee has not in any way delivered on its mandate so as to warrant the hurried chase towards the basketball federation elections, which we are informed will be holding on the 31st.
“Sir, we have it on good authority and beyond shadows of doubt that, the players who are the main stakeholders of this game have not been consulted, contacted and no meeting has been held with the reconciliation committee.
“There is no publication of a report from the reconciliation committee on their efforts, findings and prescriptions. The implication is that, the crisis that led to the formation of the committee is far from being resolved.
“It is sacrosanct to inform you Sir, that by the conventional practice known to us, notice of election is usually given 21 days to the election date, and electoral guidelines are advanced to bring stakeholders to speed as to the election itinerary.
“We woke to news of elections holding on the 31st of January, 2022 in a correspondence that was issued and signed on the 17th of January, 2022. Up till date, we are yet to receive the electoral guidelines or the statute that will be used to conduct the election.
“Sir, to our disbelief and total dismay, Mr Musa Kida is still being referred to in official correspondences of the Ministry, as the President of the Nigerian Basketball Federation long after his official tenure has elapsed and his Caretaker appointment dissolved by you.
“We find this disturbing and totally unacceptable as it infringes on our sensibility and the legitimacy of the dissolution of the Caretaker Committee which you did.
“Sir, we bring to your notice our strong reservations over the purported constitution for the Nigerian Basketball Federation having largely been prepared by Mr Kida to further his inglorious stay at the helm of affairs of the federation.
“We know the Ministry under your care will not support this shambolic show of failure and breach of an acceptable standard.
“The convention that was called to deliberate over the said constitution was flawed with irregularities ranging across intimidation and disenfranchisement of participation of relevant stakeholders.
“Sir, it is our submission and request that, the election hurriedly slated for 31st January, 2022 be suspended immediately and the pending, unresolved issues that have triggered the crisis in the Nigerian Basketball Federation be looked into critically”.
The NBBF has been in crisis for close to five years since the elections that brought in two factional presidents, Musa Kida and Tijani Umar.
All efforts to resolve the crisis have not yielded any result thus far ahead of the election of another board of the federation.